Among the Victorious – Revelation 15:1-8 05/02/21


Among the Victorious – Revelation 15:1-8 05/02/21


It’s funny how easily we miss things. We go through life hoping it’s easy, comfortable, full of fun. The thing is, if it were we’d miss a lot. What could be seen as a disaster may well turn out to be an opportunity. Such is what we should be discovering in Revelation 15:1-8. Take a moment to read through it.


Our text today brings us to the third and final sign in heaven: seven angels with seven plagues completing the wrath of God.[1] The entire chapter functions as an introduction to the final judgments, or plagues, revealed in chapter 16.[2]


This passage can be understood in a variety of ways, depending on your preferred system of eschatological interpretation. A Futurist perspective of eschatology will tend to see the seven bowls as coming at the end of history following all of the events we’ve looked at so far.[3] This view sees the trumpets, seals, and bowls as being separate sequential events. That could be correct. The futurist interpretation would result in “last” (ἔσχατος) referring to the bowls as being the final plagues following the seals and trumpets.[4]


A Preterist interpretation of eschatology will tend to see this as all being symbolic. It will assign much of the language to an apocalyptic genre with little relation to the real world. As such, any sense of sequence would have little significance. That could be correct. In this system of interpretation “last” (ἔσχατος) refers to the final sign John sees.


There is another way of seeing this. The bowl judgments can be seen as overlapping, further explaining the trumpet and/or seal judgments.[5] With this understanding, “last” (ἔσχατος) then also refers to the last vision or sign that John will see, but still takes the events as literally happening. We’ve repeatedly seen this, and in my opinion it’s likely that (ἔσχατος) “last” does refer to the order John saw the visions, and not the order they took place in chronological time.[6]


John tells us these are the last plagues because. With them, the wrath of God will have run its course.[7] I find it interesting that God is wrathful over things He could have prevented, yet He apparently chose not to. In Revelation 13:10 He plainly told the Church that some were destined to captivity, and some were destined to die. And yet, God does not take this lightly. He watches and cares and comforts those who are being called upon to suffer in this way. He does not allow this to take place lightly, as we are told in Psalm 116:15.


The saints are pictured “standing on the sea of glass.”[8] This could also be reasonably translated as standing “by” the sea rather than on it.[9] Either way, it points to the saints having participated in the battle against the Beast in the midst of a hostile and unbelieving world.[10] Because the Lamb “overcame,” the way was prepared for the saints to overcome as well.[11] The Church is able to participate in the victory the Lamb obtained because, by faith, they remained faithful in the midst of persecution.[12]


Notice that is it Jesus who overcame, not the saints. Although, in the eyes of the world, the saints were defeated, the truth is very different.[13] The Church won the battle, which was really spiritual in nature all along.[14] Now the saints celebrate the fruits of the victory Jesus won. For their part, all they did was remain faithful to Jesus without compromise.[15]

The Greek word for “bowls” (πληγὰς) [16] denotes a broad and shallow saucer.[17] There’s probably some intentional irony in that these would be similar to the bowls used in pagan idol worship.[18] In spite of this, God’s reaches out to rebellious humanity. What we will find is that each judgment is successively more severe as humanity fails to repent, until, ultimately this will culminate in final judgment.[19]


In light of all that’s taking place it is imperative that we make absolutely certain we are members of the host who will stand in victory singing praises to the Lord. How does this come about? We’re saved through (not by!) faith. What Jesus has done is applied to our lives as we turn to Him in utter reliance and trust (that’s faith); Ephesians 2:8-9. Now, if we’re not saved by faith, what are we saved by? Salvation comes from one source, and one source alone, Jesus; Acts 4:12. If it is through Jesus that we receive this gift of salvation, how was that accomplished? Romans 5:8-10.


Is your life such that you belong in the midst of the host of heaven standing victorious, ready to sing praises to the Lord? It would be nice if I could give you a list of things to do to be ready. It’s much tougher than that. John 13:34-35 tells us our calling is to love one another. This will be expressed in a huge variety of ways as you seek to know Jesus better through the Spiritual Disciplines, as you seek to be ministers of love while you walk in the Spirit. It will be a life transformed, lived by faith, surrendered to Jesus in profound and practical ways.

[1] Joseph L. Trafton, Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary, Rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 141. [2] Uriah Smith, The Prophesies of Daniel and the Revelation, Revised Edition, (Pacific Press Publishing Association, Mountain View, CA.: 1944), 631. [3] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 786. [4] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 786. [5] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 786. [6] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 786. [7] Joseph L. Trafton, Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary, Rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 141. [8] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 791. [9] Joseph L. Trafton, Reading Revelation: A Literary and Theological Commentary, Rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 142. [10] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 791. [11] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 790. [12] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 790. [13] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 790. [14] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 790. [15] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 790. [16]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Re 15:6. [17] Bruce Metzger, Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation, revised and updated by David DeSilva, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN.: 2019), 104. [18] Bruce Metzger, Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation, revised and updated by David DeSilva, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN.: 2019), 104. [19] G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 803.

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